Chief Fire Officer Tom Harbour
As wildfires rage across the West Coast, we look to a man who has dedicated his life to protecting our nation from the threat of fires: Tom Harbour. Tom currently serves as the chief fire officer for Cornea in Mesa, AZ, an advisory board member for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), a board member for the International Association of Wildland Fire, and an advisor for his own company, Harbour Fire. While this is quite the list, this is what Mr. Harbour has chosen to do with his time post-retirement. Tom began his career managing wildland fires as a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service in 1970 and served as both the Fire and Aviation Deputy Director and the National Director of Fire and Aviation Management in Washington D.C. from July of 2001 to January of 2016.
Recently, Tom has had a lot to say about fire, fear, and change. In the Mega-Fire article from our Public Safety in the News section, Mr. Harbour speaks about the current high risk of wildland fires and predicts the likelihood of this situation deteriorating further. In a blog for Cornea, he speaks on COVID-19, fire, and fear, providing us with these words as we face future uncertainty:
“Fear is no stranger to those in wildland fire. We come to work every day and bring fear with us… We understand our honorable profession is built on a foundation of having us, as responders, face the fear of fire on behalf of our citizens. We do it so our friends and neighbors do not. In practice, we relish the challenge, even as we rarely ponder, discuss, or understand fear. We want our daily behavior to confirm we are actively engaging fear and not waiting, hoping, and ignoring fear’s inevitable knock at our doors.”
As we face turbulent times, we, as innovators and public servants, should face our work with the courage and unwavering determination, of which Tom speaks.